Critical theory has left an indelible mark on postwar social thought. But what are the relations between critical theory and 'the cultural turn' ? How did critical theory inform later French critical theorists, such as Lefebvre, Barthes and Baudrillard? This accomplished and accessible book: - Demonstrates the origins of critical theory in the Marxian analysis of the capitalist mode of production and Freudian psychoanalysis - Clearly explains the main achievements of critical theory - Elucidates how critical theory defines culture as a system that constrains and alienates the individual - Explores the potential for social change and personal emancipation in the critical heritage. The author locates the importance of myth and reason, the significance of sexuality, the place of work, the difference between art and entertainment, the nature of everyday life and the relationship between knowledge and action. The result is a lucid and informative text which will appeal to all students interested in the critical traditions of social thought.